$1 Million Allegedly Stolen From Hungry Kids

The former executive of a food program for needy children in Louisiana was indicted by a federal grand jury on 37 criminal counts for allegedly embezzling $1 million in federal money earmarked for the program.

Myrna Thomas Quarles, 58, of Cotton Valley, La., was charged with five counts of theft of government property, five counts of forged securities of the states and private entities, and 27 counts of money laundering.

According to the indictment, Quarles was the director of the Greater Horizons Developmental Services, a nonprofit headquartered in Webster Parish. Greater Horizons received reimbursements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Feeding Service Program (SFSP), which was administered through the state of Louisiana.

From 2014 through 2015, Greater Horizons submitted more than $1 million in reimbursement claims that greatly inflated the number of eligible meals provided. Once Greater Horizons received the money, Quarles allegedly wrote checks that were purportedly payable to vendors and other third parties, but then deposited that money into a personal financial account.
During that period she was being paid $77,240 by the agency.

If convicted, Quarles faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years for each count of theft and forgery, and 20 years in prison for each count of money laundering. She also faces up to five years of supervised release, a $500,000 fine and restitution. The government is also seeking to seize real estate and equipment purchased with the SFSP funds.

The FBI, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and State of Louisiana, Office of State Inspector General, conducted the investigation. It was not immediately reported if she had been arrested.